Sheldon School District Reopening Plan
I am sure it seems like this letter is far overdue. Please understand the delay has been intentional in order to get you the most current information and planning notes possible. There has been a large amount of information and “facts” passed around the past few months. I am hopeful that you do not believe everything you hear or see! The purpose of this letter is to let you know the plan for this fall’s reopening of school on August 27th.
First and foremost, please know that these decisions are based on numerous meetings with school officials from around the region and state, health officials, and the CDC. Please be assured that the safety and well-being of everyone involved was not taken lightly during this process. The intense combination of the COVID virus and the other controversial events has taken a toll on the country, has divided many people, and will no doubt have a profound and continuing effect on our students.
Our re-opening plan will be a three-phase model. Attached you will find the phases and they are color-coded. Green phase-we are open to in-person learning and will have guidelines in place to maintain a healthy environment. Yellow phase-we are still open to in-person learning with stricter guidelines and red-phase is buildings are shut down and learning will all be done on-line.
At this time, visitors will not be allowed in the school unless there has been an appointment made with the principal or superintendent. All visitors will be required to wear a facemask or covering. If you choose to come watch a sporting event or any after-school activity, facemasks or coverings will be required at indoor activities.
Mask wearing is recommended in the building when social distancing is not possible.
The district will have masks available for those who do not have their own. The data suggests that the largest risk of spread for students is from adult to child. At this point, the rate of transfer from child to child is much lower than adult to child. Therefore, adults wearing masks would have seem to have the greatest protection value in a school setting.
Further, the CDC has defined exposure as a time period of 15 minutes or more. This means for a person to be considered an “exposed contact” the person will have to have sustained contact with an infected person for at least 15 minutes for transfer to have the opportunity of occurring. Simply passing near someone provides little chance for a transfer of the virus.
We will be asking teachers to arrange their room to allow for social distancing as much as possible and feasible. Obviously, there are many instances when social distancing simply will not be possible. When these instances are combined with an adult wearing a mask and kept under 15-minute threshold, the threat of spreading is minimized tremendously. Other areas of the school will also be modified to help reduce risk.
The school buses will be loaded from the rear to the front with family clusters, regardless of age. Masks will be required for bus riders grades 3-12. K-2 will be encouraged, but not mandated. The district will be requesting that any parents who are able and willing to drive their own children do so to reduce the overall number of riders on the bus during the commutes. We will be strictly following the one mile from school routes. THERE WILL NOT BE A IN-TOWN ROUTE THIS YEAR FOR PICK-UP OR DROP-OFF.
The cafeteria will also look different than previous years. There will be less students in the cafeteria at any given time due to their arrangement, spacing, and modified shift times. Students will be spaced farther apart and will face the same direction to avoid close face-to-face contact. This is still a work in progress on the lunch shifts.
The CDC and the Vernon County Health Department (VCHD) strongly recommend that any student or staff member be sent home if not feeling well. Their re-entry to school will have to be on a case-by-case basis as no two situations are the same. Anyone with conditions of fever or cough will be sent home until the symptoms clear for at least 24 hours. Again, this time may vary according to the situation. Students will not be penalized for absences which are deemed COVID-related.
If a student tests positive for COVID, the VCHD will contact the school immediately to assist with contact tracing. The district’s sole source for this confirmation is the VCHD. Therefore, the district will not be able to act on hearsay or “second-hand” reports of someone testing positive until the report comes from the VCHD. Any person considered to be “exposed” to that student will be quarantined for up to 14 days and will be able to re-enter school if no symptoms are present. Furthermore, the CDC has defined exposure as a time period of 15 minutes or longer within 6 feet. This means for a person to be considered an “exposed contact” the person will had to have sustained contact with an infected person for at least 15 minutes within 6 feet for transfer to have the opportunity to occur. Simply passing by someone provides little chance for transfer of the virus. It is certainly possible that school could be shut down again for several days following a positive case for tracing, cleaning, etc. We will be sending home a release of information form for the County Health Department to ensure the Health Department can do a thorough job of contact tracing. Please sign the form and get it back to us. All information regarding COVID tests will be confidential.
Thank you for your patience through these past few months. It has been more than difficult to hear the wide range of data, reports, and stories about COVID. For individual questions, please feel free to contact me and I will try to answer the best I can.